Canvas will replace StudyDirect as the Sussex VLE

Canvas by Instructure
From the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year, Sussex will be using Canvas as the institutional Virtual Learning Environment. Canvas will enhance our capability to offer a truly modern, digital learning experience, combining an intuitive, clean workspace with robust, cloud-based operation and is as easy to use on a mobile as on a desktop computer.

TEL are developing an extensive programme of training and support for academic and professional services staff. We’ll be pulling out all the stops to get everyone ready for the new opportunities in teaching and learning that using Canvas will bring. We are also engaging with USSU on a comprehensive communication plan for all students.

To support our move to Canvas, there is now a dedicated section of the TEL website. We’ll also post regular updates on this blog to keep you on the pulse of the latest developments, right up to September and beyond.

Watch out for more news very soon.

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Posted in Canvas

Object Based Learning – Podcast S02 E01

Sussex TEL: Teaching with Tech S02 E01 – Object Based Learning with Maria Kukhareva

In this episode, Tab Betts talks to Dr. Maria Kukhareva, an Educational Developer at the University of Bedfordshire, about how she uses Object Based Learning (OBL) in her teaching. The discussion focuses on how strategic use of physical objects, photos and other realia can be used in any discipline to promote critical thinking, group discussion and reflective learning.

Maria Kukhareva at the University of Bedfordshire
– Email:
– Twitter:
Overview of Maria’s Object Based Learning Project
More info about Object Based Learning from ALDinHE
Presentation abstract from Playful Learning Conference
Maria Kukhareva’s Ted Talk on resilience

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Posted in Podcast

Nearpod Mid-year update, Sussex staff and student views so far

In September 2017 Technology Enhanced Learning launched a pilot of Nearpod, an interactive presentation tool. The pilot is intended to assess how useful this tool can be for staff and whether Nearpod has a positive effect on students’ learning experiences.

Students using Nearpod

We received a great response to our initial call for staff participants and Sussex staff from across the academic schools signed up to take part in the pilot. Throughout the Autumn term Technology Enhanced Learning carried out a number of training workshops and our pilot participants have begun integrating Nearpod into their teaching. Read more ›

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Posted in Mobile learning, Polling tools

New Year, New Term, New Workshops and Courses from Technology Enhanced Learning

"2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop" flickr photo by wuestenigel shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop” flickr photo by wuestenigel shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It’s a new year and Technology Enhanced Learning are launching a new programme of face-to-face workshops and online courses for staff at the University of Sussex. Some of these events are also open to students and will be listed on the Skills Hub.  Read more ›

Posted in Events

360 degree photography with the Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh Theta S

What is 360° photography?

For most internet users, our first experience of 360° images has been on Facebook or YouTube. The idea of being able to move your phone and ‘look’ around a photo as if you are standing there is a great way of creating an immersive experience, especially when combined with virtual reality headsets such as Google Cardboard.

360° photography has become much more popular over the last few years. This is because it is easier than ever to create a 360° image. Apps like Google Street View, and many more within the respective app stores allow you to quickly take an image with just your normal phone camera (these are sometimes referred to as photo spheres). The stitching of these images is done by the software and has improved immeasurably over the last few years.

For those wanting to take it further and take better quality images, there are a range of devices, at a range of prices. They also come in a range of configurations. Some have one lens pointing up, others like the GoPro are a rig with many lenses (GoPro cameras) pointing out. Images are then stitched using software.

The camera we use is a Ricoh Theta S, it has two fish-eye lens positioned either side of the body to give a full 360° image. It is a well reviewed camera, that is pocketable, relatively cheap and easy to use and  the images look great straight out of the box. This post looks at the use and functionality of the Theta and how we’re looking to make the most out of it for use in education. Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Learning Spaces

Sussex TEL’s Festive Countdown.

Technology Enhanced Learning’s very own Elf, George Robinson, has been busy making a countdown to Christmas calendar full of TEL goodness.

Each day from 1st December to 21st when the University closes for the year, there will be a window to open with a guaranteed zero calorie treat.

We’ll be sharing some of the most popular blog posts and podcasts of the year, giving you a peek into the personalities that make up the team, and playing with some apps we love.

Catch up now by clicking on the image above to see the first few days and follow us on Twitter to get a daily alert to the next fun tidbit.

If any of this gives you ideas you would like to explore further, email us on


Posted in Uncategorized

Add interaction to videos with Vizia

This week we want to introduce you to a great tool for creating interaction with videos.

Video is increasingly being used in teaching and learning, from recorded lectures to short videos used as part of a Flipped Learning approach. Watching a video can, however, quickly become a passive experience, whereas learning should be active.

Vizia lets you add quizzes, polls and calls to action to a video. You can also add the option for viewers to give a response. Here is an example of a video where I have used Vizia to add a range of interactions.

What does Vizia do?

Vizia allows you to add polls, quizzes, open ended questions and ‘calls to action’ to specific points in a video. As viewers watch the video the interactive elements pop up and they can type in their response. At the end of the video, a score for any quizzes is given. You can also choose to collect participants’ email addresses, allowing you to follow up on any questions or misconceptions and feed these forward into face-to-face teaching.

Here is a very quick example, showing each of the types of interaction.

This video was taken from NASA’s channel on YouTube, but you could also upload a video you have made to YouTube and use it in Vizia. If you set it to ‘unlisted’ in YouTube it will not appear in searches.

When you have created your Vizia it can be shared via a link or embedded in a website or blog. Further options allow you to gather names of viewers and download their responses.

Ideas for using Vizia in learning and teaching

Anywhere that you could use video in teaching and learning you could consider using Vizia. For example:

  • Ask students to find a YouTube video relevant to their course and add interactive elements, then share it with their peers. This could be done via the VLE or on a Padlet wall.
  • Make a mini-lecture screencast and test students’ learning or gather questions from them at stages during the video. Sussex University licenses VideoStudioPro or you could try Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic to make your short video.
  • Find a video relevant to your module and add questions and polls to get students thinking about how it relates to what you have discussed in class. News items from the BBC News YouTube channel might be useful for this.

How can I get started with Vizia?

Vizia is quite simple, with not many settings or options to deal with. This step-by-step Vizia Guide will take you through creating and sharing your interactive video.

Is it free?

Yes, Vizia is free to use.

Will it work on my device?

Vizia works in a web browser, so will work on any device that can access the internet.

What are the alternatives?

Here are some other platforms that you may want to look at:

  • Vialogues takes a different approach to making video more interactive. It lets you and your students add text comments to a video. Here is an example of a Vialogue based on a TEDx talk. You need to create a free EdLab account to use Vialogues.
  • Recap is a free chat platform designed for schools where responses to questions can be given by video or audio as well as text.
  • TEDEd is a free tool that allows you to build ‘lessons’ around a video by adding questions, discussion prompts, and additional resources.


If you would like help with using Vizia or to discuss how this or any other technology could help you in your teaching or learning please get in touch with Technology Enhanced Learning at


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Posted in App review

Digital Discovery Week 2017 @SussexUni – Podblasts, 5G and Virtual Reality

From 6th – 10th November a week of exciting events took place at the University of Sussex. Digital Discovery Week is a week-long series of events celebrating and promoting digital practice, culture and skills at Sussex. It is a collaborative initiative aimed at all staff and students at the University and was organised by Technology Enhanced Learning, the Library, IT Services and the Careers and Employability Centre. Throughout the week people could attend a range of interesting online courses, in-person workshops, seminars and exhibitions. Below is a summary of just a few of the events that were running.


The week kicked off with a ‘Pop-up Library Makerspace’ facilitated by Makercart during which participants were given the chance to explore and experiment with a range of creative technologies including 3D printing and diy electronics.

The afternoon featured the first ever ‘Great Sussex Podblast’, a collaborative podcast event in which both beginners and experienced podcasters were invited to come together to record, edit and publish a podcast series in just one afternoon! Participants were supported through the process of recording, editing and publishing by members of Technology Enhanced Learning who provided them with useful tools and techniques. The series is available on Soundcloud here: Sussex TEL: Teaching with Tech podcast.


Tuesday saw the first of the new Digital Skills Drop-ins held in the Library. This first session was a ‘Photoshop Surgery’ where students were able to come along with any specific queries they had, or images that they are currently working on. A team of experts were then on hand to advise and support students.

A special Digital Discovery Week edition of Show & TEL, our collaborative forum for staff to share practice across the University, was held in the afternoon. This term we were joined by three speakers – Prof Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology; Prof Liz James, Professor of History of Art; and Prof Lucy Robinson, Professor in Collaborative History, who introduced us to the innovations they have been trialing in their teaching. Robin shared how he has been using reflective learning journals within Mahara to increase communication between him and his students on a third year module titled ‘Psychology in Education’.


On Wednesday we were joined by Dr Vivien Rolfe who gave an interesting talk about the potential of using open textbooks within Universities. She talked about their advantages in terms of affordability and how they are far more accessible in comparison to the traditional published textbook model. The use of open textbooks has been successful throughout the US and the hope is that it will spread to the UK in due course.

In the afternoon, a mixture of staff and students attended a Computational 2D Design workshop led by Giovanni Contreras Garcia. The workshop introduced participants to creative technologies and techniques which can be used to create 2D and 3D geometries, providing them with the opportunity to create their own 2D artwork using the design approach.


Thursday was packed full of innovative ideas. The day started with Dr Ben Jackson’s ‘VR Puppet Shows: telling stories with Old Bailey data’, a piece of work being carried out in the Digital Humanities Lab which aims to visualise historical accounts through the use of virtual reality puppets. To find out more and to watch one of the 197,745 transcribed trials held at the Old Bailey in London visit

Next we were joined by Prof Maziar Nekovee, Head of the Department of Engineering and Design, who was exploring ‘What is 5G and when is it coming?’. We were told of the latest innovations in communication technologies. Maziar also spoke of the trials that have been carried out on the University of Sussex campus in collaboration with Brighton’s Digital Catapult Centre. You can watch Maziar’s presentation here:

Following the seminar, attendees were invited to an exhibition featuring exciting content from across the University. We were joined by Dr Darren Baskill from the Department of Physics and Astronomy who brought along their infrared camera, which he uses to demonstrate how we can study the formation of stars. The Anatomy team in BSMS also brought along some 3D printed organs which they print on site and use as teaching aids for students. In addition the exhibition featuring ‘Discover campus’ a series of augmented reality posters designed to let you discover more about the history of the University of Sussex using content from the Keep. There was also ‘Making the invisible, visible’ a virtual reality tour of Physics labs which an undergraduate student would not normally have access to. You can see 360 gallery here.


During the ‘Data Mining Workshop’ participants were introduced to text and data mining using the Library’s databases. During the hands-on session attendees explored Yale University Library’s Robots Reading Vogue, the JSTOR Text Analyzer, and analysed the text of Pride and Prejudice using Voyant Tools.

In addition to the face to face events running throughout the week we also had one of our popular Take 5 Online Bitesize courses running throughout the week. Take 5: Digital Productivity introduced the 112 participants to a range of different strategies and tools to help them manage communication and collaboration within teams, organising their time and tasks as well as digital options for notemaking. Participants were able to work through the course in their own time, receiving support and advice from members of Technology Enhanced Learning as well as their fellow learners via Slack.

To find out more about the these events and others visit the Digital Discovery Week page , look at the Storify of the week or listen to the latest TEL US podcast.

If there is a particular event or topic that you would like to know more about or would like to explore in your own teaching please contact

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Posted in digital skills, Events

About our blog

We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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